Thursday, 14 March 2013

Le 7ème arrondissement

We start the journey in le 7ème, the arrondissement of embassies and expats, taking over from long-established très riche Parisian families. If you're travelling on the 80 towards Porte de Versailles from Mairie du 18ème arrondissement-Jules Joffrin, alight at Bosquet-Rapp stop; the counter stop is Bosquet-St Dominique.

You won't miss the very beautiful and symbolic Tour Eiffel standing guard across the Champ de Mars. It would be a nice pre or post-prandial amble. Don't be disheartened by the apparently tacky restaurants and cafés that fuel the millions of tourists that pass through here annually. In amongst it all are some gems. It is unfortunate to note that over the last few years, the number of souvenir shops has grown from a mere peppering to a veritable dousing. Mais bon courage - look beyond it.

My first recommendation and a real favourite is Les Cocottes (de Christian Constant) at 135 rue Saint-Dominique. M. Constant is a legend in Paris culinary circles and a great supporter of rugby, who regularly hosts les Bleus for pre or post-match dinners (what a training regime!) Les Cocottes takes no reservations. Casual, polite, efficient service manages this aspect well. But to avoid longer delays than you're happy with arrive before the 8.30pm watershed to secure a seat, either at the bar or at high group tables.

The name Les Cocottes refers to the little cast iron pots in which individual portions of slow-cooked heaven are served, whether pigs' trotters, sea bass, volailles, or even vegetables. Verrines are also served - glass jars of crab, avocado, velouté and foams, soft and subtle as you like. A great place to share pots of perfection with friends; but I found too a wonderful place to treat yourself to a perfect dine-alone experience, especially after a hard day at work. Not forgotten, but left comfortably to your own space to ponder the world, the crowd and all.

Christian Constant virtually owns this entire strip of rue Saint-Dominique. Cafe Constant is a smaller, more casual morsel of a space although it has two floors at 139 rue Saint-Dominique. It's a fine lunch spot, with simple, seasonal food, exquisitely prepared; the prix fixe menu is a worthy companion. Fresh asparagus simply prepared in summer; morels, chanterelles and other woody goodies in winter. All is right with the world with un pichet of crisp Touraine or earthy Bordeaux.

Promenez! Go and buy yourself a cheap little Eiffel Tower key ring from the lads on the Champ de Mars.

No comments:

Post a Comment